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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Movie review: ‘22 Jump Street’ a marvelously endearing sequel

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  • If they passed out Oscars for best closing credits, “22 Jump Street” would be a lock. In the space of 5 minutes, directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller thoroughly satirize the greed-driven lack of originality in Hollywood by presenting us with a peek into their own futures via a series of mini-trailers, ranging from “23 Jump Street: Medical School” to “43 Jump Street: Retirement Home.” I couldn’t stop laughing, especially after a famous “Neighbor” pops up in the middle of it.
    Not only do the directors skewer the money-grab nature of sequels, they also deliver yet another example of the cleverness that’s fueled their previous films, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” “The LEGO Movie” and, of course, the original “21 Jump Street.” And when I say “original,” I mean original, which might explain why the duo’s trio of hits have amassed nearly a billion dollars. And there’s no letting up with “22 Jump Street,” a sequel that’s not a sequel, at least not in a traditional sense. What it is, at least in theory, is a carbon-copy of the first film’s bust-a-drug-dealer plot, only this time moving from a high school setting to a college campus.
    What’s not the same are the jokes, which are generally fresh, and more often than not, funny. True, they again center around the budding bromance between bumbling cops, Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill), but there are dozens of asides that poke fun at both Tatum and Hill’s off-screen personas, as well as the formulaic nature of sequels. What worries me is that the meta subject matter might be too inside Hollywood for mainstream audiences to digest. But the film is so much fun on its own, it might not be a problem And what makes it fun are the impeccable performances by Hill and Tatum, two guys unafraid to rag on themselves. It results in a fascinating mock-off in which each actor attempts to be more foolish than the other. How low will they go? Pretty low, but the more outrageous the indignities, the funnier the film gets.
    Still, “22” didn’t have me at hello. After a protracted, unfunny preamble, prospects looked glum. But once the boys check into their dorm, claiming to be fraternal twins (natch), the jokes start to take hold, and gradually gain strength until hitting their zenith with the aforementioned closing credits. It’s during that stretch that our idiot heroes suffer a falling out and agree it’s time to start “seeing other people.” For Jenko, it’s hooking up with a fraternity of jocks, led by the alpha-athlete Zook, played in an impressive breakout by Wyatt Russell, the son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. He’s the hunky QB, and Jenko soon becomes his favorite receiver. Not only do they complete most of their passes, they also complete each other, resulting in one of the most touching, and hilarious platonic homoerotic relationships set to film.
    Page 2 of 2 - Far less satisfying is Schmidt’s hookup with a gorgeous poetry student named Maya (Amber Stevens), whose irate father goes berserk when he finds out they’re dating. He wants them to split up, and so did I, considering Hill’s chemistry with Stevens is nowhere near as strong as what he shares with Tatum. Call me superficial, but I also wasn’t buying the idea that a girl who looks like Stevens would flip over a guy who looks like Hill. He, and the movie, would be better suited hooking up with Maya’s sharp-tongued roomie (scene-stealing Jillian Bell), who can never pass up a chance to razz Schmidt about being too old to be a college freshman.
    She’s right, of course, and that’s chief among the points the movie makes about how ridiculous TV shows like “21 Jump Street” appear when you hold them up to scrutiny. But what makes “22 Jump Street” sing is the amount of heart it generates in the relationship between Jenko and Schmidt. They may stray, but they always end up back together – where they belong.
    The directors fully understand this, but their comprehension of what’s funny and what’s not is their bread and butter. Whether it’s a sharp one-liner or a mind-bending sight gag, like a flexible split screen chronicling the vastly different hallucinations Schmidt and Jenko experience after accidentally ingesting the deadly new drug “whyphy” (pronounced wi-fi), Lord and Miller milk it for maximum effect. The bits don’t always work, but there’s never any doubt they’re giving it their best. Ditto for the host of terrific supporting players, including returning regulars Ice Cube, Nick Offerman and Rob Riggle, and newcomers, Peter Stormare and the uproarious Lucas twins, Kenny and Keith. But the main reason to buy a ticket is Tatum. The man is nothing short of a comedic genius. He’ll literally do anything to be funny, including running around shrieking and yelping like a little girl after learning the identity of Maya’s father. It’s marvelously endearing, as is the entire movie, which in the pantheon of sequels knows few equals.
    22 JUMP STREET (R for language throughout, sexual content, drug material, brief nudity, and some violence.) Cast includes Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Wyatt Russell, Amber Stevens and Peter Stormare. Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Grade: B+
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